Fighting Sexual Harassment Retaliation in New Jersey
Sexual harassment in the workplace is wrong and illegal, and employees should not have to fear reprisal for speaking out against it. It is illegal for any employer to terminate, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee who reports, complains, files a charge, or participates in an investigation regarding sexual harassment. This applies to both internal and EEOC claims. If you complained about sexual harassment and were fired, denied privileges, or demoted as a result, you may be able to file a separate retaliation charge.
Based in Red Bank, NJ, Newark, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, and representing clients throughout New Jersey, the employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. provide skilled legal counsel for employees and employers in sexual harassment retaliation matters. We can help you understand your rights and options, as well as the best course of action for filing a complaint.
How Do You Prove Sexual Harassment Retaliation?
If you have made a complaint about sexual harassment, either internally or externally, it is important to know what retaliation looks like. Sexual harassment retaliation can come from employers, coworkers, or anyone else in the workplace. This retaliation can take many forms, both major and minor, including:
- Job transfers
- Loss of benefits
- Jokes or teasing
If you can demonstrate that the employer took any of these actions as a result of speaking up or reporting sexual harassment, you may have a retaliation case and should speak to one of our experienced sexual harassment attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your options. We can help ensure that you make strategic decisions for the next steps, including filing complaints with your employer, your union, and/or the EEOC. With the assistance of an attorney’s advice, you can also determine whether the sexual harassment you have endured rises to the level of criminal conduct, and it is appropriate to report it to law enforcement. Your attorney can discuss your options, as well as their pros and cons, allowing you to decide what the appropriate avenue is for you personally; whether that involves a lawsuit or another remedy.
Am I Being Sexually Harassed At Work?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:5-3 et seq.), sexual harassment in the workplace can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The harassment can occur between two people of any gender, and can be initiated by an employer, co-worker, supervisor, client, or customer. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of gender discrimination that can include a wide range of behaviors or mistreatment, including but not limited to:
- Treating employees of a certain gender differently, such as paying them less or failing to promote them;
- Making unwelcome innuendos, jokes or conversations that make a person of a certain gender or orientation feel uncomfortable;
- Objectifying an employee based on their appearance;
- Sending emails or images of a sexual nature;
- Making unwanted physical contact such as patting, touching, or rubbing;
- Subjecting persons of a certain gender to increased scrutiny, criticism, and harassment, or otherwise making their workplace uncomfortable;
- Sexual advances or propositions, including suggestions of trading advancement for sexual favors, commonly known as quid pro quo sexual harassment;
- Verbal or physical abuse; and/or
- Using sexist slurs or comments.
Workplaces and occupations where sexual harassment is most common include:
- Sexual Harassment Of Administrative Assistants
- Sexual Harassment In Doctors’ Offices And Healthcare
- Sexual Harassment In Dental Offices
- Sexual Harassment Of Housekeeping And Janitorial Workers
- Sexual Harassment In Bars And Restaurants
What Should Employees Do if they Feel Sexually Harassed?
Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and other federal statutes, your employer has a responsibility to prevent, investigate, and adequately address sexual harassment complaints. If you have been subjected to harassment, the individual harasser and your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering.
If harassment occurs, it is important to take detailed notes. This documentation can help with your sexual harassment claim. These records should include details such as:
- The nature of the harassment;
- When the harassment took place;
- Who was involved;
- The location of the harassment; and
- If there were any witnesses.
In addition to keeping records of the harassment, it is also important to take the following actions:
- Tell the harasser that their actions are making you uncomfortable and ask them to stop;
- If the harassment continues, inform your manager and consult your employee handbook for information about formal complaints; and
- Consult a New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer immediately.
Representing Employers in Sexual Harassment Retaliation Cases
Employers have a responsibility to take sexual harassment in the workplace seriously and avoid any situations where a claim of sexual harassment retaliation can arise. The best way to prevent such claims is to have effective policies for creating a workplace where sexual harassment of any kind is not tolerated and strictly enforce these policies. Ignoring problems, minimizing employee complaints, failing to perform thorough investigations, or failing to take proper remedial action can create substantial liability for supervisors and employers and can lead to claims of sexual harassment retaliation.
Generally, employers can avoid liability for sexual harassment retaliation if they can prove that:
- They took steps to prevent or correct the harassment;
- The employee did not heed or take advantage of their attempts to prevent or correct the harassment; and
- The employee did not suffer any negative effects in retaliation for making a sexual harassment complaint.
Our attorneys can provide guidance to minimize potential risk and exposure. Our firm can help employers create employee handbooks and policies, provide a clear understanding of employment laws, and help companies avoid future sexual harassment claims.
Our NJ Sexual Harassment Retaliation Lawyers Can Help You
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in New Jersey, and have faced retaliation such as termination, demotion, or discipline after making a complaint, contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. today for a free consultation to discuss your options.